Carrie-Anne Twitchen, 2016 David Miller Award Winner, reports from the International Strawberry Symposium

21 Nov 2016

The David Miller Travel Bursary Award aims to give early career plant scientists or horticulturists the opportunity of overseas travel in connection with their horticultural careers. Carrie-Anne Twitchen was awarded one of the 2016 David Miller Travel Bursaries and she travelled to Quebec City, Canada to attend the 8th International Strawberry Symposium which took place 13 - 17 August 2016.

‘Known as the 'Olympics' of the strawberry the International Strawberry Symposium has been held every four years since 1988. In 2016, the 8th International Strawberry Symposium was held in Quebec City, Canada. Building on the success of the most recent hosts Beijing, China (2012) and Sidney, Australia (2008) the theme of the conference was ‘Moving Strawberry Science to New Frontiers.’

‘The conference comprised presentations from key note speakers, oral and poster sessions and field visits to local strawberry producers. The programme devised for the 600+ attendees was diverse and covered many aspects of strawberry production. Individual sessions focused on a particular theme and were chaired by experts in their field, themes included: breeding, crop management, genetics, applied physiology, health, production systems, propagation systems, post-harvest quality and pest and disease management.

‘Running concurrently with the scientific conference, a technical conference was also devised for industry stakeholders with topics including: breeding strategies, new technology and production techniques, pests and disease management and marketing strategies.

‘The two conferences created a unique opportunity for key players in the strawberry industry to come together with researchers from around the globe to discuss some of the major issues the industry currently faces such as increased consumer demand for local produce, out of season produce and organic produce; reduction of waste, water and chemical usage; improved berry flavour, quality and shelf life and reducing losses as a result of pests and disease.

‘Working on the propagation phase of strawberry production there were many presentations relevant to my PhD research, providing me with up-to-date information on the work being carried out in my field. Key presentations of particular interest to me included:

  • Programming production potential and harvest spread through fertilisation in Elsanta tray plants (Peter Melis, Belgium)
  • Photoperiod and temperature interaction on inflorescence architecture and receptacle size of everbearing strawberry cv. Capri (Paolo Zucchi, Italy).
  • Effects of long days and high temperatures in the nursery on fruit production pattern of the short-day strawberry cv. Gariguette.

‘This was my first experience of an international conference and I found the networking aspects and field visits hugely enjoyable and rewarding; having the opportunity to talk with fellow researchers and industry representatives about my work was very informative. The field visits also gave me real insight into large scale commercial strawberry production and the major issues growers currently face, highlighting their research needs.

‘I returned to the UK with greater knowledge of my subject and a renewed sense of enthusiasm for my research. Importantly, as I am coming to end of my experimental work, I also came away with new perspectives and aspects to consider in the final write up of my thesis.

‘Overall, attending the 8th International Strawberry Symposium was a hugely enjoyable and rewarding experience and I am very grateful to SCI for the David Miller Travel Award I received, which help to fund my trip.’

Carrie-Anne Twitchen
David Miller Travel Award Recipient 2016

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